Review Summary: In totally untypical fashion, Black Malachite mostly fails to disappoint.
At 49 minutes and 12 tracks in length, "Nightfall", is easily the best material released by multi-instrumentalist Dalton DuBois--whether under his "Black Malachite" moniker or any other. Featuring excellent production values and rather well-executed instrumentation, the record spreads its time across more or less three different styles: southern-tinged post-rock, electronic music, and solo pianist performances. Despite showing clear evidence of Dubois' continued progress in composition, however, the album is
still plagued by the same problems as the artist's previous releases.
Running a total of 49 minutes, "Nightfall" still feels rather bloated and inconsistent largely due to its awkward stylistic divisions. Beginning with three tracks of lovely acoustic-laden "country styled" post-rock, the record is quick to devolve into the mediocre beat-driven electronica for which the Black Malachite project has been previously known--the saving grace of which are their sometimes prominent inclusions of piano lines therein (the playing at which Dubois is surprisingly competent). While definitely not unbearable, these songs are so drastically different in style and quality from the previous rock-based pieces that there's really a good question to be asked in why they were included on "Nightfall" to begin with and not on a separate release of their own, outside of simply filling time.
Despite its awkward middle section, though, "Nightfall" seems to end on a relatively higher note. Seemingly taking a mind of its own, the piano slowly takes on more and more spotlight as the album progresses, eventually resulting in the barely electric "J.E.D.C.T.A." and following two solo performances that close out the album. While definitely still lackluster compared to the warm, hopeful strumming in "Daybreak," "Nightfall," and "Fireflies," these pieces are still executed fairly well in their own right and serve as an effective outro to the record.
"Nightfall" isn't a great record by any means--but it is most definitely a few large steps in the right direction for the mostly directionless Black Malachite. While still more interested in experimenting with different flavors than committing to and refining one at a time, "Nightfall" interestingly boasts some of the artist's best material yet and is easily his most overall consistent release to boot. Although his electronic pieces still need some work, his guitar and piano compositions continue to grow surprisingly stronger as time goes by. It's surprising to say, but "Nightfall" seems to be proof positive of Sputnikmusic's own Dalton DuBois slowly becoming a competent artist.